We understand media arts as art that interacts with digital and computer technology. For us, that means video plays, documentary shorts, radio dramas, podcasts, animated films, video blogs, video essays, and live streaming.
If the internet is the Silk Road of the 21st Century, then it will be a canvas on which we create and disseminate our art.
Silk Road Rising first coined the term “video play” in 2011 with the release of Jamil Khoury’s both/and. While the definition of the term continues to evolve for us, it’s important to note that a video play is neither a filmed play nor a feature film, but rather a marriage of genres combining the language, staging and aesthetics of theatre with the intimacy and permanence of digital filmmaking.
Multi Meets Poly: Multiculturalism and Polyculturalism Go on a First Date
Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by A. George Bajalia
January 21, 2015
A thought-provoking and often-humorous reflection on the theoretical and practical differences between two powerful social ideas: multiculturalism and polyculturalism.
By personifying these ideas as human characters—one male, one female—and endowing them with intellectual rivalry and sexual tension, a would-be romantic evening becomes an intriguing vehicle for exploring American notions of pluralism, cultural interchange, and diversity.
The Imam and the Homosexual
Written and Directed by Jamil Khoury
October 23, 2012
15 minutes, 50 seconds
The Imam and the Homosexual probes the “strange bedfellows” political alliance between Imam Mustafa Khan, spiritual leader of a besieged Naperville, Illinois mosque, and Carl Baker, the openly gay son of the imam’s chief nemesis. As Imam Mustafa struggles to reconcile his support for civil rights with his religious and cultural objections to homosexuality, Carl imagines the Muslim and LGBTQ communities uniting against their common enemies.
The Imam and the Homosexual was created as part of an online new play development process for Jamil Khoury’s full length stage play Mosque Alert.
The Balancing Arab
Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Anne Jacques
September 11, 2012
The Balancing Arab tells the story of Hanan, a politically active Arab American, and Heidi, her Irish American personal trainer. Set in a downtown Chicago gym amidst a strenuous training session, the mood turns tense as the two women recount an event at the Arab American Cultural Center a few nights earlier and realize that they filtered the evening’s politics through decidedly different lenses.
The Balancing Arab explores tensions that exist within and between political cultures and the challenges of articulating ideas that get stranded in context or lost in translation.
Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by J. Paul Preseault
June 26, 2011
12 Minutes, 30 Seconds
both/and swaps the shackles of either/or for the sweeping vistas of complexity. Jamil Khoury's semi-autobiographical video play explores and explodes persistent tensions between American and Arab, Arab American and gay, for profit and not-for-profit, and assorted other “contested categories.”
Every one of us has a story to tell. And whatever our medium, we long to have our stories heard. At Silk Road Rising, we view documentary filmmaking as a crucial means of exploring our mission, of unraveling and dissecting its deeper meanings. We believe that the ideas, experiences, and politics that support our mission serve as guideposts to the stories we need to tell.
Sacred Stages: A Church, a Theatre, and a Story
Directed by Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury
March 22, 2014
28 minutes, 37 seconds
Sacred Stages: A Church, A Theatre, and A Story tells the unique and inspiring story of the relationship between the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple—Chicago's oldest Christian congregation—and Silk Road Rising, a theatre company founded in response to 9/11 that showcases playwrights of Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds.
A shared commitment to storytelling, racial and economic justice, and LGBTQ inclusion characterizes this profound partnership between a religious community and a secular theatre.
Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs, and the Contours of Contested Whiteness
Directed by Jamil Khoury and Stephen Combs
February 26, 2012
24 minutes, 8 seconds
Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs, and the Contours of Contested Whiteness expands the American conversation on race by zeroing in on whiteness as a constructed social and political category—an elusive concept that historically played favorites, advantaging Northern and Western European immigrants over immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe and the Middle East.
Inspired by Jamil Khoury’s short play WASP: White Arab Slovak Pole, Not Quite White integrates scenes from WASP alongside interviews with Arab American and Polish American academics who reflect upon contested and probationary categories of whiteness and the use of anti-Black racism as a “whitening” dye.
What excites us about animated filmmaking is how it allows us to communicate through a unique visual language, through representational expressions that transcend the strictly brick and mortar, flesh and blood. In animated storytelling, anthropomorphized voices assume illustrated forms that serve to evoke ideas. Moreover, animated subjects can tell a story free from the burden of realism--and that, from a creative perspective, can be profoundly liberating.
The Four Hijabs
Written by Jamil Khoury and Dr. Manal Hamzeh
Directed by Liz Wuerffel
Animated by Anna Hayden-Roy
July 30, 2016
12 minutes, 6 seconds
The Four Hijabs is an entertaining and accessible animated short film that explores four hijabs mentioned in 16 Qur'anic verses and interprets them through an Arab Muslim feminist lense. The four hijabs are identified as:
⚬ the visual hijab (the modest dress of both Muslim men and women)
⚬ the spatial hijab (the separator between private and public spaces)
⚬ the ethical hijab (ethical values and practices required of all Muslims)
⚬ the spiritual hijab (the barrier that inhibits deep spiritual growth and new knowledge)
Inspired by ideas in Dr. Manal Hamzeh’s book Pedagogies of DeVeiling: Muslim Girls and the Hijab Discourse (Information Age Publishing, 2012) and adapted into a screenplay by Jamil Khoury, The Four Hijabs builds upon the groundbreaking work of the late Moroccan feminist writer and sociologist Fatima Mernissi.